Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Vampire's Ball: The Tragic Tale of the Eternal Sisters: Felicity and Katalina

The Vampire's Ball:
The Tragic Tale of the Eternal Sisters: Felicity and Katalina

                                                                                    Act 1

Have you ever heard of the tragic tale of the eternal sisters, Felicity and Katalina? It all began on a crisp autumn night in September of 1790 at the Vladimir Orphanage in the alleys of southern New Orleans. The old and rotting institution housed over fifty orphans ranging from infants to teenagers just about to partake in adulthood. 

Over the years, the former dilapidated plantation turned wretched half way house saw its share of disease, death, poverty and hunger, duly earning the nickname, Death’s Nursery. It had haunted the streets of the city for over ten years and in that time; it bore over seventy graves of the children who simply wasted away under the weight and heartache of starvation and daily filth. So much so the city forced the owners to utilize one of their many acres behind the property to create a makeshift cemetery. 

With poorly dug and maintained graves and decaying wood crosses in lieu of headstones, it was a place of deep sorrow and hopelessness. Dark, dank, and with every fog that rolled in during the misty morn, the stench of mold, mildew, and the recently deceased gleefully floated into town, invading every home and nostril. A despised place, ignored by the denizen of the districts. The children imprisoned there an inconvenience to them, no longer flesh and blood, spirit and soul, but refuse staining their lives and homes with the filth of their existence. It was most certainly a place death would be proud to call his home.

Mr. Vladimir, the founder of this architectural atrocity, never cared for children and only opened the facility to appease his young wife whose barren womb plagued her with shame and regret. The only way she could subdue the aching guilt of her condition was charity, as selfish and unwanted as it was among this stoic community. As an anniversary gift, he gave her the plantation, and she decided to use it to save the lost and homeless children of New Orleans. She was going to save them all, be a mother to the suffering and abandoned, find families to love them as she would have. It was a glorious and vain ambition, but midway through the reconstruction, she contracted Scarlet Fever and died soon after. By then, the incomplete habitat housed over one hundred souls and Vladimir had no intention or concern to maintain the burden. But the city fathers gave him no choice, so he operated it with the lowest of priority and compassion, employing the most coldhearted and hateful of staff. 

It was in the summer of 1790 that two young sisters, Felicity and Katalina, came to the orphanage from Mississippi. Their parent’s dead of influenza, and grandparents unwilling to take them in, they were sent, by stage, to this purgatory on earth. Stubborn and rebellious, Felicity, the eldest, soon found herself at the receiving end of many beatings and inhuman punishments. Whether locked in an empty room for days with no food, water or human contact or made to stand on a stool with her arms raised, stacked books in each hand, for hours as her tears and screams of agony were either ignored or mocked. 

Katalina, the younger, naive, pure, and honest found herself continually bullied by the stronger children, left out of every game, forced to forage for the scraps of food left after everyone else had eaten. She was weak and pale, but her spirit remained high despite every reason for it to fail. 

It was soon after their arrival that the two decided to sneak out at night and haunt the streets concealed in the darkness seeking adventure and something to fill their empty, cramping bellies. With so many children to keep track of and so little compassion to go around, they were barely, if ever missed. 

They would scavenge garbage cans desperately seeking the smallest morsel to eagerly devour. Each night they found open windows and shabbily locked doors, which became gateways of escape from their relentless misery. 

If they found something inside it instantly became theirs. Theft became their only glimpse of control. They would steal and then horde their stash in an old shed behind the orphanage. They stole everything from trash to tattered and ragged garments, broken furniture, to photos carelessly cast away by thoughtless, unsentimental hosts. It was their treasure, their only joy in this curse called life. 

But it took very little time for the townsfolk to realize who had been invading their shops and homes. To them they were as obscene as the rats that scurried across the streets at midnight leaving their droppings and mites to pester the citizens of the small settlement. And like rodents, they had to be trapped and exterminated. However, the sisters were far cleverer than their hunters and for the longest time avoided every snare and pitfall with ease. They were shadows just before the dawn, too quick and elusive for the curmudgeons to capture. But like all things that fate has a hand in, it all was surely about to change.

Act 2

One night, the sisters found an open window at the local bakery.  Their mouths watered as they shimmied through the narrow window frame eagerly imagining the days, maybe weeks of bread, cakes, and cookies they would store and then feast upon. Hands trembling, they scurry from the back kitchen to the storefront, snatching a couple of large and worn burlap bags lying on the floor.  Their hunger nearly overcoming them, anxiously hoping to break the forced fast of the last few days as even the smallest scrap of refuse was hard to come by.  The townsfolk were now concealing their trash, securing windows and doors, sitting on watch to prevent these new pests from entering their domiciles and stores.  They would tolerate their antics no more, and if that meant starving them, even from their carelessly cast aside leftovers and garbage, so be it. 
As they creep deeper into the bakery, eyes widened, as case after case filled with delicious treats comes into view.  Pausing only for a moment to mentally digest the delicious panorama, they sprint, splitting up to mercilessly pillage each case of any and all contents that will fit in their sacks.  Like vaporous blurs they move from area to area, grabbing all they can.   Once their bags are filled to near overflowing, they begin to stuff whatever else they can snatch into their mouths, barely chewing each bite.  Each taste is indescribable, a symphony of flavors orchestrating complete satisfaction.  They want to eat more, but quickly find themselves full, nearly ill from the rapid fire buffet.  Physically satiated, but psychologically famished, they hoist their goodie bags over their shoulders and make way to their escape, unsure of how they are going to exit with their newfound delectable treasures.
In the backroom, they cautiously place their plunder down to devise a plan of exodus.  Suddenly Katalina interrupts their strategy session, “Felicity,” she screams, “The window!”   Felicity looks up to see their point of entry now tightly boarded up from the outside.  “Oh God,” she gasps, “They know we are here, it’s another trap!”   “What do we do now,” Katalina cries?   “We have no choice, we have to run to and through the front door,” she commands with the determination of a seasoned captain.  She sharply grabs her sister's arm, leaving their prized cornucopia behind, “Run and don’t stop,” she demands.  They spring from the back into the arms of a mob of angry awaiting arms. 
Before they can react, they are bound and beaten by the furious posse.  Dragged from the store they are brought to the town’s square and furiously locked into the stocks for all to view and mock.  The relentless throng of the irrational horde endlessly pelts them with rotten fruit and wet and putrid trash.  Soaked with the vulgar smells and textures of excrement and refuse the two weep, their tears burn like acid as they mix with the atrocious concoction now covering them like a slimy, stench ridden second skin.  Felicity looks up from her hunched posture and glares through the fiery assault bombarding her tired eyes.  She strains to see her attackers, her ears slowly filling with their taunts and profanity.  The vile mixture drips into the crevices of her lips as her tongue retreats to avoid the hellish taste of her shame.  
“I curse you all,” she struggles to scream as more of the repulsive residue oozes into her mouth slinking down her throat.  “I will have my revenge,” she growls but is quickly muted by the heavy hand of the constable who incarcerated them.   He strikes her two more times for good measure, “You will have nothing,” he scolds, “because you are nothing!”    Blood streams down her forehead, embracing and dancing with the rest of the fluids she is engulfed in.   Katalina cries out to her, but her sister has surrendered to the exhaustion, disgust, and pain.  Katalina weeps as the constable provides her with his demented form of discipline as well. 
In time the scowling and violent crowd subsides leaving the two battered and bruised siblings to suffer alone in the courtyard, chilled to the bone by the crisp night air.   “We are in hell,” Felicity barely whispers, “it is certain now.”  Katalina has neither the strength nor desire to respond.  Hopelessness has taken hold, crushing their bodies and spirits with the weight of regret and solitude.  “We are truly lost and alone,” she weakly continues, “there is no one to save us now.”  Katalina groans as the heaving of her sorrow is  painful as her body stands contorted and twisted by her shackles and wooden constraints.    “We are utterly alone,” Felicity mumbles as she drifts out of consciousness again.
The air is still but brisk as the moon rises illuminating the scene in its eerie glow.  All is quiet but the sounds of approaching footsteps, confident and determined.  A shadow falls over their limp and fragile frames.   A tall and slender figure looms over them, shaking his head, “Tsk, Tsk. Tsk,” he sighs, “what have these backwards fools done now to condemn their souls?”  His large top hat nearly eclipses the moon as he drapes his silver handled snake's head cane over his arm near the elbow.  He is wearing a black wool overcoat that covers his entire body, with only his black, leather, silver-tipped boots are visible.  Pale skin, far whiter than even the moon’s silent luminance, glistens in the night's hue.  He removes his grey glove and gently touches Felicity's bruised face, brushing away her matted hair, stripping away the dried and dismal coating with his fingers.   Felicity does not respond she has nothing left to give; it is as if she is awaiting the sweet release of death’s cold hand. 
His dark and empty eyes soften “No, my child, your story is not over,” he whispers as he bends down to her ear, “it has only just begun.”  He rises and stares up at the grand ball of white fire smoldering among the shimmering stars.  “It has only just begun.”

Act 3

Nicoli Eripmav came to this small town a quarter of a century ago.  He appeared suddenly and mysteriously one misty and brisk autumn night.  It was not long after his arrival that he came to occupy the Brandywine Manner, the plantation home of wealthy widower Thomas Weane.   Weane sold his family home late that month for reasons unknown, but most of the populace was well aware of his affection for gambling.  He was especially fond of card and parlor games.  Some say he owed more than his soul was worth, others whispered about an affair with a lonely spinster who died under mysterious circumstances, a case that remains unsolved to this day.
Nicoli was rich beyond comprehension.  He refurbished the mansion, making it the most majestic and architecturally ornate in the entire city.    He was the most generous man as well, donating millions over his time as a citizen of the community, building the town its square, a new jailhouse, and school.   He gave liberally to local law enforcement as the depressed economy of the last decade spawned a surge of petty crimes to dangerous theft.  A new steeple for the church, cemetery, and meeting place were just his last few acts of charity.  The simple townsfolk adored him and deeply respected his words and wisdom.   They were so intoxicated by his open coffers that upon noticing his repeated absences during most daytime happenings, the council, with unanimous support from its votes, moved all of its parades and celebrations to the evenings to facilitate his nocturnal schedule.   Or maybe it was the mere fact that void of his apparently limitless bankroll none of these said events would even have occurred. 
Nicoli had no wife, or children, he was alone, living in the Manor with an exuberant amount of empty, expensively decorated rooms.    Those who had the privilege of visiting this magnificent estate often wondered why?  Why a man who seemed to have everything was so very isolated, surrounded only by the cold company of soulless possessions.  Many suitors called on him, but none accomplished more than a pleasant evening that included a grand tour of the vast estate, English tea, and veiled conversation.  It seemed the polite but secretive gentleman had little or need for romance. 
But recently, the usually calm and reserved lord was enthralled in a war of words and actions with the owner of the dilapidated, unsanitary, unwanted local orphanage.  Despite his best efforts to pour needed money and assistance into the facility, the cold and callous Vladimir refused his generosity at every offering.   Even when Nicoli brought wanting parents into the establishment in the hopes of adopting some of the unfortunate offspring, Vladimir made it as tedious and uncomfortable as possible for both the adoptees and their potential parents.  Many simply walked away, while few battled until they were able to wear the old curmudgeon down and finally rescue their choices from the sorrowful habitat. 
But with the sheer numbers of poor and lost children every victory seemed eclipsed by the weight and volume of the continuous sadness hiding in every corner, with its tears staining every floor and wall board saturating the air with desperation.  Nicoli swore he would find a way to take possession of the orphanage and would do so at any cost.  It was the first and only time the stale souled Vladimir feared anyone or anything.   
Then two young girls became the newest inhabitants of this earthly purgatory.    Just a couple of small, insignificant scurrying rats cloaking themselves in the darkness of night to rummage through the dankest of corners for the tiniest scraps to fill their empty aching bellies.   Their loneliness and hopelessness haunting the dusk as it whispered through the cold, damp wind.   He felt them immediately, their quiet but constant agony and futility of their existence.  It tormented him in the silence, filling his mind and heart with a heavy, piercing pain.   He knew they were destined to become part of his family, to take their rightful position as his only daughters.   He knew it more than he knew himself.
The years, decades of empty wandering through the hollow halls of time would finally end.  The isolation and meaningless of his never-ending agelessness would be now be occupied by the warmth and light of fellowship and compassion.   It has been an eternity of quiet desolation now suddenly interrupted by the sweet song of companionship.  They needed his support and mentoring as much as he needed their mere presence.  The vibrancy of their life would illuminate the tomb of his, resurrecting a soul long abandoned and forgotten.  
After he had brought them home, freed from their bonds and torment, not one single soul complained despite their outrageous disdain for the two annoying urchins.   No one would dare chance offending or angering this powerful and benevolent spirit.   For if they did, if he left, this town would indeed die a swift and merciless death.  
It took weeks for him to nurse them back to health, the toll of their torture and shame taking great pleasure in ravaging them down until only the faintest of heartbeats remained.  Each morning his team of attentive nursemaids brought them their meals, each with a crystal chalice of the sweetest nectar either had ever enjoyed.  It was as if composed of every flavor existing all at once in a beautiful menagerie of color, texture, and taste.   With each sip, they found renewed strength of body and mind.  Their physical wounds healed quickly, but their spirit took longer to mend, nearly broken under the oppression of the hate and callousness of the town’s people.  
No one was innocent; they were all guilty of the scars of scorn now etched deeply into their bruised hearts.   But as each season passed, thanks to the compassion and salvation of their new benefactor, they found something they thought would elude them the rest of their days.   They found the one thing that meant more than warmth, breath, time, or treasure.  He gave them a gift that no one else ever thought of offering. 
Little did they realize, how much more he had imparted to them?  How life would never be the same, even by its own definition. 

Act 4

It was months after that horrific night and the acts of atrocity were almost all but forgotten by the simple community. 
All but Felicity.  
Their wealthy benefactor had fully adopted the young ladies and showered them with gifts and graces.  He transformed them from dirty, ragged urchins to beautiful, educated, and articulate debutants who had become not only accepted by the once resistant townsfolk but respected and almost unbelievably adored.  It is amazing what a little polish and prominence will do, especially when wealth and position are applied.  
How quickly the sins are forgotten when intoxicated by the wine of excess and entitlement.  After all, it was half a year ago and Nicoli had nearly drowned the town in charity, providing coffers for repairs, a new stockyard, and numerous donations to a plethora of forsaken folks.   Using his contacts he established the town as a hub for sea trade bringing overwhelming prosperity to a providence which was nothing more than unexceptional before. 
He finally purchased the orphanage with the help of public dissent and Vladimir’s failing health.  Almost overnight, it went from tragic eyesore to a proficient and superior facility that serviced every orphan’s need, providing the highest levels in care and accommodation.   He brought in the finest staff with exceptional pedigrees and schooling.    Even with all of the improvements to service and structure, adoptions remained low, but with the institution in such an efficient and comforting state, none question or even whispered a complaint. 
Despite his unconditional generosity, Nicoli remained unseen for over the last few weeks with only his daughters acting as his liaisons.    The girls had garnered the profound admiration from the town’s populace and went out of their way top prostrate themselves upon the rich young ladies presence.    The elders poured their gratitude upon them publicly and at every instance.   With each meeting, the air was filled by abject humility and overt appreciation.   In their minds, their selfish and vile acts mercilessly inflicted upon these two helpless children must have been repented for by now. 
In their minds. 
It was October when the mystery began.  It started with the disappearance of just one or two of the orphans but then by mid-month the number had increased into the teens.    The constable was perplexed as there was no evidence of foul play or bodies ever found.  Could they have simply run away?  Left of their own accord? That seemed impossible with the strict and consistent security and safety procedure that Nicoli had put into place and the relentless commitment of the staff.    There was no evidence of a forced entry or struggle.  No witnesses to interview or crime scene to meticulously review.   By the last week of the fall month, a total of twenty children had gone missing with a shred of proof as to why.
With All Hallows Eve fast approaching, the town was distracted from the strange disappearances with the upcoming Fall Ball that the Nicoli and his prodigy had planned.   It had been a staple of the season since the wealthy lord had taken possession of the plantation.   He majestically decorated every square inch of his palatial manor and served an immaculate cuisine.  The air would be saturated with the most angelic of ballads and melodies as an armada of talented minstrels performing classic works and contemporary favorites.   It was a spectacle of autumn hues, delectable scents, and the joyful glees of all who attended. 
And this year would be no exception. 
Felicity had taken the reigns of all of the planning and preparation for this year’s festivities.  She intended this to be the grandest of all of the balls they have hosted before.  The decorations were more extravagant, the menu riddled with delicacies from all around the globe, costumes crafted by the most nimble masters, and musicians renowned throughout the world.  She spared no expense to create a celebration of the decade, maybe a century. 
While her sister, orchestrated the magnificent party, Katalina spent her time at the orphanage providing her assistance in anywhere needed.  She was neither impressed nor attracted to such social indulgences but would rather remain shrouded by her kindness and humility.  Her heart was larger than anyone who had ever lived in the small town, greater than anyone who had existed to that point in time.   Her life was dedicated to helping others, even at her young, na├»ve age.   There was not much time or desire for anything else.   She had grown distant from her sister, not by choice, with Katalina’ s volunteer activities and Felicity’s social and public engagements made it very difficult for the two to meet even by accident.  
Adding to her solitude was the sorrowful fact that she had not seen her loving father in weeks.   She was told by the rather secretive staff that he had gone across the sea to Europe to further establish trade relations with the small province.  To say she was skeptical would be a significant understatement.  She had also instituted her own investigation into the missing orphans, although it seemed, at the time, she was the only one still concerned.  Felicity visited the orphanage on a regular basis as well but never when her sister was there.  She had developed a close relationship with the staff, one that kept them distant from Katalina as well.   The once very receptive and gracious team seemed more aloof in her presence these days.  
Despite her tenaciousness, Katalina was unable to gather any new or more detailed information regarding the disappearances.   She even found the staff quite unresponsive and uncooperative when she questioned them.  Her suspicions’ grew with each passing day, what were they hiding?   Where was her father?  Why such secrecy?  It had to be all connected, but to do so would be an enormous stretch. 
So one night, a week before the ball, she decided to throw caution to the wind and truly dig deeper into the matter.  She would sneak into her father’s office, a place forbidden to both of them since the came to the manor.   But his warnings had been voided; she needed to know where he had gone and deep within her soul she knew the locked room would hold all the answers.
Answers she would wish she never came to know.

Act 5
She quietly opens the window and slithers in from the outside.  To enter through the hallway would have been impossible, unseen.   It was a colder than usual night, but the frigid air would not distract her from her cause. 

The room was pitch black, total darkness, and yet she found herself slowly but steadily able to pierce the void as the room comes into a yellowed focus.   She steps down off the small ledge into the office as scanning the crisp outline of every item in the immense space.   The window silently and gently closes behind her.  

Her bare feet recoil on the chilled wood floor, but it only lasts a moment.  Her nightgown provides little warmth, however, she finds herself less and less affected by temperature, hot or cold, it all seems growingly indifferent.  All changes that were so subtle they were easily ignored at first, but with each day, she becomes increasingly aware of them.  Strange, indiscernible changes, like her addiction to that sweet and tantalizing juice.  She could never put a particular taste too.  Void of a description that could truly define it even with her newly acquired vocabulary.

Somehow she is stronger, faster, sensed everything around her.  Very little escaped her attention now, whether it is smell, taste or touch.   Everything was amplified, renewed.  She was rediscovering the excitement and energy of even the most mundane objects or situations.    

As she traverses the floor she is immediately intimated by the massive looming bookcases that surround her, acting more like towering inanimate guards than archives of literature, prose, and legacy.  So many books, all so old, you could almost feel their history surge from their worn leather bindings.    Their ancient tales whisper, even beckon to her in the dark.    

She reaches the gigantic, oak desk in the middle of the room, its chair like a throne with crushed red velvet nearly glowing against the backdrop of the night.  How can she possibly see that in the dark? The desk’s top is clear without a single item loitering on its vast antique surface.  There are three sets of drawers lining each side, each with a brass keyhole.  She swiftly tries each one, locked, as expected.  

She cautiously pushes out the chair; it makes very little sound.  Curious!  But how?  By mere appearance, it must weigh twice as much as she does.  Yet it effortlessly glided across the floor as if it was on taught satin.  She is only a foot taller than the desk as she pulls on the drawers again, using all of her strength.  Their tarnished handles cooperate little. 

She crouches down and peers under the behemoth using her nimble fingers to search its area for a key somehow, somewhere attached to its bottom.  Nothing!  She then frantically molests the two interior sides with the same result.    In frustration, she slams the right side hard temporarily forgetting the deadliness of travelling sound.    She cringes praying she hasn’t brought attention to herself as the old mansion echoes like an empty cavern.  

Suddenly a small plank of wood drops from the center of the desk and falls to the nauseatingly ornate oriental carpet below it.  She slides under the wooden monstrosity to view what has been exposed.  The tips of her fingers tickle the newly exposed, perfectly formed hole.  She feels some sort of lever, like a large smooth switch. 

Taking a deep breath, she flips it to the other side.  There is an abrupt, but tiny clanging sound and then the hum of a small ball descending down a hollow tube.  What has she done now?  The object reaches its bottom and rolls forward inside the desk making contact with something metal.  Another quick click and the top drawer pops open. 

Has anyone else heard the sounds?  She pauses to ensure her mission has not been jeopardized.    Slowly rising up she glances into the drawer as her eyes widen.    She stands and reaches in to pull out a barely bound scrap book dripping with articles and keepsakes.  Placing it on the desk her heart races, she knows the answers are here. 

Answers she could have never prepared herself for.  Answers that will shatter time and existence. 

Act 6

As she cautiously opens the tattered and moldy book a hand roughly grabs her shoulder and viciously pulls her back.   She screams and drops the book to the floor as papers scatter everywhere.   The book sails across the carpet down to the hardwood floors smashing against the bookcases.   She is spun around frozen in terror only to face the angry stare of her sister.   “What are you doing,” she scolds her breath is as cold and harsh as the air in the vast room!  Katalina is speechless as her sister’s grip tightens.   “Let go of me,” she finally musters the courage to speak and swipes her sister’s hand of her shoulder.    The two face off, fear replaced by rage, curiosity by guile.

“We aren’t supposed to be in here,” Felicity scowls, “you know this!”   “I don’t care,” Katalina retorts, “there is something strange going on around here and I want to know what it is!”  Their argument resonates like thunder within the large office, neither care.  “It’s all in your head you silly girl,” Felicity continues, “Now get out!”  “I will do no such thing,” Katalina refuses, “what are you hiding?”  “What, what,” Felicity steps back, “what in the world would I be hiding?”  “Whatever was in that book for starters,” Katalina answers as she points to the path of stained and aged parchment now littering the floor.

“That is father’s book,” Felicity scolds!  "If he had wanted us to see it, he would not have had it locked up in his desk, in a place where we are forbidden to go!”  Katalina huffs and then quickly stoops down maniacally collecting the papers, “well I have to know!”  Felicity drops down top stop here, but Katalina pushes her to the floor; it is painfully obvious by her expression that she was a lot stronger than Felicity had expected her to be.   Katalina continues to swiftly collect the remnants of the book.   “Stop, Kat,” Felicity demands, “just stop!”  She is ignored, and even the small intonations that she hears only fuels Katalina’s pure determination.   

Within literal seconds, she has gathered every scrap and shuffles them back into the remains of the book.   She stands and faces her sister again.  “You won’t like what you see, trust me,” Felicity warns.  “So, you have seen it, you have been in this forbidden place,” Katalina growls in disgust, “you lie too well, dear sister, you always have!”    She slams the book on the desk and blows the hair out of her face.   “You won’t understand,” Felicity continues!   “Just shut up,” Katalina screams and opens the book speedily but thoroughly scanning its contents.    Her breath begins to increase in labor with each passing moment.    Each article and picture even as disheveled and unorganized as they begin to tell a story, one that spans time and reason.

The pictures and etchings of an ageless man, revealing a soul unencumbered by the heavy hand of years and decades, pure and nubile as nature moves forward altering all but his form.   With each word read whether, by newsprint or the hiccups of ancient inks, she realizes who her savior truly is.   Her mouth drops as does the book from her trembling hands.  It slides back to the floor; its contents ooze out yet again.  Eyes vacant as her mind, she is lost, unable to process the truth, like trying to digest cork or sawdust.  She glances over to her sister; a smug smile washes across Felicity’s face.    “Well, now you know, child,” Felicity snickers, “you never did listen to me, that’s why you have to learn so many lessons the hard way!”

Katalina is still unable to garner the wherewithal to respond to her sister’s surprising and disconcerting arrogance.   “And what do you think that precious juice was,” Felicity continues to purr, “that lifesaving nectar you are now unable to resist, to live without!”  It is all coming together; Katalina is overwhelmed with a horrifying mixture of fear and nausea.   “You had to know,” Felicity giggles, “or are you just that stupid!”  Her mind racing; the equation now as clear as two plus two, but her spirit still refuses to accept it.  “We are no longer those weak little things haunting the streets of this cursed and simplistic city,” Felicity continues!  "We are so much more, more than we could ever have been without him!” 

“Are we dead,” Katalina is finally able to mumble.   “No fool,” Felicity snaps, “we have been reborn!”     “But they are supposed to be dead,” Katalina continues to murmur quietly, “That’s what the stories say.”  “Fables told by superstitious fools, “Felicity scoffs, “bedtime stories to scare children into obedience.”   “This is the truth,” she continues her scornful lecture, “and this truth has truly set us free!”   Katalina vomits violently; her chest feels like it is going to explode.   “Grow up, Kat,” Felicity backs up, the putrid smell filling the air and assaulting the senses!  "The quicker you wrap your feeble mind around this, the sooner we can move on.”  Katalina vomits again, it burns her throat like acid, “Move on to what,” she sputters? 

 “To what our destiny has always been,” Felicity announces, “the fate that shame and poverty kept us from it.”    Katalina continues to dry heave, bent over, her small frame riddle by the pains of cramping.   She falls to her knees clutching her stomach; her arms wrap tightly around his abdomen.   “Don’t you see, dear sister,” Felicity bloviates, “he gave us an amazing gift, and we have to use that gift, it would be a sin not too.”  Katalina looks up, eyes drenched in tears, “you call this a gift!”  “Yes, Kat,” Felicity answers without a pause, “the greatest gift!”  Katalina spits a few more times to free her burning throat from any remaining vile sludge.   “And we are no longer alone,” Felicity continues, “in this gift, in anything!”  

Katalina tries to stand; her legs are weak, body shivering nearly uncontrollably.    “We will never be alone again, “Felicity cackles as she raises her arms high towards the ceiling.   Her incessant eerie laugh haunts every inch of the room.  Katalina finds her feet and stands defiantly; she forces the shaking to stop out of sheer will.   Before she can speak a word, the room comes alive in light as dozens of candles appear illuminating the faces of all of the missing orphans.   Katalina is frozen again. 

“You see sister,” Felicity stands upon the desk, “we have a new family now!”  “One that will never leave or betray us for all eternity!”  Their eyes glow red brighter than a candle flame.  They smile all at once, in some great visceral chorus, their fanged teeth tickling their pale lips.  “And this is just the beginning,” Felicity announces, “Our family has will only grow larger!”

Katalina searches the room as the ominous figures stares blankly back at her.  They are all vampires.    She is a vampire.  But how?  Why?  And where is father?

Felicity jumps down from her perch and gently places her sister’s pale chin into her cold hand.  “He didn’t share our vision,” Felicity whispers, “he would have only gotten in the way.”  Katalina shutters.  “It had to be this way,” Felicity callously consoles, “you need to trust me, trust me just like you did on those wretched streets not so long ago.”  Tears stream down Katalina’s tired eyes.  “His death has guaranteed our immortality,” Felicity wipes the tears away with her finger as she carefully strokes Katalina’s cheek like she is a lowly pet. 

“And now his death,” Felicity hums, “will ensure that they pay, every last one of them.”    “Those who couldn’t find the care to feed us will become our greatest feast!”  Katalina’s eyes widen; the revelation comes swift and harsh, piercing her thoughts and soul like a steel blade.

She looks into the eyes of her sister, but what stares back is a dangerous stranger who radiates of hate and death.                        

Act 7
“Now listen carefully my dear sister,” Felicity ominously begins, “I intend on getting even with this little, pathetic, unimportant cesspool of a town.”  “I will repay them for every insult hurled at us while we were defenseless, locked in those cold wooden stocks!”  “I will repay them for every ounce of garbage and slop they covered us with as we labored in their unjust imprisonment.”  “I will repay them for every meal they stole from our mouths, every second of peace they ripped from our souls, and every tear shed thanks to their callous taunts and profanity!”  Her eyes widen, like black voids, lifeless, hollow, shrouded with pure, unbridled rage.  “I will suck the life from them, feast upon their flesh and bone, drink deep from their veins until all life is drained while complete and total fear is realized.”  “They are my prey, and I will tear them apart mercilessly, their shrieks and cries will simply fuel my hunger and work to satisfy my desire.”

Katalina stands, still woozy and weak, but undeterred.  Felicity continues, “And these children, the lost and abandoned, will help me." "They too will take pleasure from their pain; find joy in their suffering and sorrow.”  The orphans hiss in delight, their blood red eyes pierce the darkness, illuminating their faces in a horrific crimson glow.  “Soon they all will belong to me,” Felicity cackles, “just like the staff here and there!”  Katalina freezes, could she have converted them too?  But how?

“With the very same juice, our father gave to us, my dear sibling,” Felicity purrs.  “But you have to know by now," she continues, “that it was not any nectar of fruit that saved us.”  Katalina gulps down her fear and ignorance, it settles in the pit of her stomach turning and burning with a truth that chills her soul and tortures her mind.  “It was his blood," Felicity announces with glee, “his sweet blood that made us whole, made us more, made us gods!”  Katalina feels the vomit rise again as it roars back up her throat.  “His blood gave us eternity," Felicity joyously explains, “and now I have done the same with my minions.”   Minions?  Who is this creature standing before her in glorious cruelty who at one time wore the garments of her sister, her best friend?

“Tomorrow night, they will come,” Felicity dances around the top of the old desk, “from all around this backwoods town.”  “They will come to celebrate their ignorance at the Ball we have so graciously scheduled.”  “And when they come, they will dine upon such a wondrous buffet.”  “They will dance to the sound of the most angelic harmonies.”  “They will sing and laugh as if it is the last day they shall live.”  “And it shall be, dear sister, it shall be!”   Katalina tries to speak, but Felicity’s voice is too strong, easily eclipsing her.

“At the stroke of midnight,” Felicity gleefully continues, “my minions will arrive, surrounding them from every angle.”  “Before they know what is about to happen, it will happen."  "They will be engulfed by a wave of hungry shadows that will bite, rip, and tear at their fragile skin."  "Allowing their blood to flow, like rivers of wine, drenching their porcelain faces, eager lips and the floor below.”   They will die slowly, with a historic agony as they are drained of each precious ounce.”  “It will be a majestic massacre, a delightful dance with death and torment.”

“No, sister, I won’t let you,” Katalina finally musters the courage and strength to object!   The room falls deathly silent as Felicity smiles madly and widely.  “And how child, do you propose to stop me?”  Felicity leaps of the desk and stands nose to nose with her sister, her breath like poison.   “I am as strong as you are,” Katalina defiantly reminds, “born of the same substance that our father gave you!”  Felicity stands there, at first, in silence and then, begins to chuckle quietly, then slowly building into a full cackle, brutal and terrifying.
Katalina remains unfazed by her sister’s maniacal behavior and folds her arms tightly across her chest.  Felicity turns away and takes a few steps forward, still laughing as tears begin to stream down her snow white cheeks.  The orphans join in, slowly and steadily, but softly giggling in delight at Katalina’s nonsensical defiance.  Felicity methodically turns and stares at her sibling, her glare could melt solid steel.  Katalina refuses to acknowledge the rising anxiety in her gut.

Felicity breaks the silence, “Child,” she begins as her smile turns quickly to a diabolical snarl, “you will never be as strong as me, even in my weakest moment.”  Suddenly Felicity is behind her in a flash, her hands wrapped tightly around her delicate neck.  Katalina can feel the air struggling to break free and the sharp introduction of pain resonating around her tender throat.    

“I can snap it like a dried twig,” Felicity whispers as Katalina gasps for the slightest scrap of oxygen.  “And it would be as meaningless to me as those unfortunate and decrepit souls I will feed upon this time tomorrow.”  Katalina grabs Felicity’s hands, but her hold is solid, like iron, suddenly she is reminded of those awful stocks.   “I should snap it,” Felicity continues to hiss, “but I will cease, only because of father.”  And with that said, she releases her sister who collapses onto the floor desperately trying to catch her breath. 

“But you will never challenge me again,” Felicity demands as she looms above her.   "Never!”  Katalina cannot respond as her sister begins to laugh again and dismisses her audience.  Within seconds, they are alone. Before Felicity exits she turns to her wounded sister, who still has not taken a full breath. 
“You will stay in your room if you wish not to witness my sweet revenge,” Felicity instructs with all the confidence of a seasoned matriarch.  “When it is over, I will fetch you and you can feed off the scraps.”  “It seems that is all you have come to deserve.”  Katalina coughs but still has no voice.  “But, child,” Felicity’s eyes widen again, “if you attempt any more nonsense.”    Felicity’s presence seems to overwhelm the room, even the darkness appears to retreat.  “Then you will become just that, scraps,” she growls, “scraps for my minions to share.”

And with that, she spins around and leaves Katalina alone in her agony, both physically and deep within her soul.  How did it all come to this?  She always knew of her sister’s anger.  She blamed the world for all of her circumstances.  And now that rage, pure guile has been amplified by her new, hellish condition.   Was her madness the result of that vile combination?   Would she succumb to it as well?  Was her sister merely a future reflection of what she was to become?    By the next full moon, Felicity would have her revenge.  How in the world could she stop her?  She had already proven her hate far outweighed Katalina’s compassion.    She had to figure it out.  If she failed, the bowels of hell itself would open and spill out flooding everything and drowning everyone in their own blood and terror.    Only she could prevent it.  It was an impossible task!       

Act 8

The townsfolk begin to gather on the grounds early this year.  Their costumes speak of stories of love, hope, fear, and death.  Whether simply crafted or elaborately ornate, their mere presence delights the eyes with their tales of fancy and fright.  The air fills with the delectable smells of the endless buffet lined with all manner of meats, fresh fruits, vegetables, and sweets of all varieties.  Music floats above them, tickling their ears as they dance among the topiary and marble columns.  It was everything Felicity had promised it would be.  The guests are joyously ignorant to the fate that waits at the stroke of twelve.
Katalina weeps in her room, the weight of what was to come crushing her soul.    There is no hope; she would not be able to stop the pure rage and evil that her sister has become.  Every strand of music haunts her, each burst of laughter only feeds her tears, it is pure torture.   Felicity had converted all the orphans now; she knew it deep within her heart.  The staff had turned too, anxiously, but patiently waiting for their moment to strike.  This had become a house of darkness and hate, instead of beauty and solitude.  It was no longer the home her father, or the man she knew to be as such, had built and cared for.  No, now it was a veiled tomb silently awaiting its new residents.  Everyone was here now.  The streets were empty, homes barren, stores closed for the festivities.  No one was left out, the entire community had gathered together for their collective funeral, disguised, just as they were, hidden in the twilight masquerade.
She peers out her window to witness their joy and frolic; it is the most horrifying thing she has ever seen.   The massive grandfather clock in the main hall strikes eleven and eerily chimes that many times.   The beautiful sound now mutilated and reformed into a melodious laugh of a madman.  Felicity appears and makes a masterful speech welcoming them all, inviting them into the main hall for the main feast.   Little did they know it is they that are the main course?  Katalina did not know where the orphans were hiding, but she could feel them all around her.   Their hunger calls to her in the shadows like the siren’s song.    She had to resist it; she refuses to become one of her sister’s minions, a soulless, lifeless drone, purged of all free will and purpose. 

Suddenly a whisper pierces her torment, “I did not free you to be weak,” the barely recognizable voice echoes in her tiny ears.    She frantically searches the room to find its source, but she is alone, utterly alone.  “I did not free you to be weak,” it repeats, just slightly louder than before.  She stands and searches again, but nothing has changed.  Maybe she has finally gone mad.  “You are stronger than this, stronger than you know,” it continues but from what direction and why?  Katalina feels a welling in her soul as if something is forming within her belly.  “She is weak, her hate has made her weak,” the voice is louder now, more pronounced, “She knows it has and that is why she fears you, and you alone.”  Is it her own voice, her courage scolding her for her cowardice?    No, it is a man’s voice, familiar, strong but calming.  “Find your strength, find it now, or you will damn yourself to the same darkness, the same end,” it calls out a final time and then the room falls deadly silent.

Without a doubt, she now knows whose voice it is now.   It is father's, she is sure of it.  Was he calling to her from his grave, or simply her own confidence mimicking his familiar tone and quality?  Either way, she knows what she has to do.   Whatever is being conceived within her, fueled by his encouragement, now has blossomed, and her courage has been reborn.  Defiantly she glares at the locked door before her, she laughs at the collective splinters, and they will not be able to hold her back.
Her father’s words are still ringing sharply within her mind, repeating over and over again.  The realization that if she does not act, only death awaits her permeates her entire essence.   A death not of her body, but her soul, spirit, her very identity.  To do nothing, will make her as mindless as Felicity’s minions, and every drop of blood shed tonight will stain her hands as deeply as her sister.   She looks up at the clock at the wall, half past, there is still time, but it is fleeting.

Felicity looms over her guests at the top of the grand staircase, her smile widens as each minute ticks away.  As they sit at the myriad of large round tables, covered by the most elegant linen table covers,  rarest of crystal goblets and china, and most delicate china, devouring their meals with ravenous delight, Felicity’s disdain and ire grows satisfying her bloodlust, eclipsing any remorse that would stay her hand against her upcoming revenge.  Her minions concealed in the shadows, perched in the rafters of the vaulted ceilings above.   They wait for their master’s command, salivating at the mere thought of the blood that will drench and titillate their tongues.  The staff serves each and every guest young and old, generously delving out their servings to thicken the blood and fatten the flesh.   Felicity basks in the moment, in her newfound power, something she had never dared to dream of until now. 

For so long she was a weak, pathetic, nothing, a burden, unimportant, and insignificant.  Starving, dehydrated, poor, forced to beg for every meal, as few and far between as they were.  A tattered, cold, and dying soul, void of hope, abandoned, unloved, praying for death to provide even the slightest hint of peace.  But now, she was whole, healthy, and superior.  Now she had everything, all the control, and in a few more minutes, she would take everything from them, with no life spared no matter their age, gender, position or providence.  And there is nothing to stop her, nothing!  

She giggles and then covertly motions in the air as her disciples begin to descend from the ceiling, scaling down the walls.  The servants put down their trays and untie their aprons.  Felicity watches as the orphans surround the dining hall from a distance, staying just out of sight.   Of course, even if they were more conspicuous, it would not have mattered.  The townsfolk are so naively distracted by their false sense of safety and overzealous revelry that any threat, no matter how pronounced, would have been inadvertently ignored.   Felicity takes a deep breath and sighs in unchecked satisfaction.  Her time has come and theirs is over.    She reminisces one more time about her history of pain and shame cumulating into that shameful, unjust night in the stocks.  It quickly wipes away any mercy or concern that may still be clinging to her cold, dead heart.  It is an easy task.   Five minutes to go, it is five minutes too long.

Act 9

Just at the height of her arrogant introspection a voice cries out bellowing through the massive hall.  It possesses an unfamiliar strength and determination.  “You are all in danger,” it announces, “you must leave now or you will die!”  The noise of the crowd’s incessant and trivial chatter engulfs the command.  Felicity scans the room to indentify the voice’s source.  Suddenly Katalina appears as if she was simply and abruptly transported there out of thin air.  She lands on one of the large tables with a thud, shaking it violently.  The crowd is immediately stunned by her sudden appearance and collectively gasps.  “Leave, or die,” she growls her eyes on fire!  She bares her newly formed fangs glistening like polished pearls.   Her face is stone, frozen in a terrifying glare that violently fills and pierces the room. 

One guest screams, then another, and another.  As more and more bear witness to her ferocious presence, their reactions undeniable express  unbridled fear.   They begin to scatter from the room, knocking over tables and chairs.  Crystal shatters as it impacts the floor as their shards streak across the nearly ancient hardwood floors.   They exit full speed in droves, trampling those that are weaker and frail as they desperately attempt to escape.  Katalina cackles as the melee reaches its fullness and screams with delight.    Her shrieks assault every sense and occupy the entirety of the gigantic space. 

Felicity’s rage reaches unspeakable heights as she watches her well-formulated plan collapse under the weight of Katalina’s intrusion.  Her minions are frozen in confusion, unable to react to the events transpiring so effortlessly before them.   “Katalina,” Felicity screams!  Katalina turns to her sister and snarls.  It is in that moment, the bond that had linked them together, by birth and blood, shatters and siblings suddenly become strangers, bitter enemies.  

Felicity springs from the step, launching into the air, soaring toward her sister.   Katalina scoffs as her sister glides through the air.   She abruptly ascends, crushing the table into splinters that were once below her feet.  They meet mid air, colliding into one another, as they streak across the rafters impacting a wall across the room.   The aged wood and ornate tile crumbles as they strike.   They wrestle across the wall, suspended high above Felicity’s minions.  Their claws dig deep into each other’s flesh, tearing it as if it was wet paper.   Katalina attempts to bite her sister, like a high strung viper, but misses as her sister flips her around and they rapidly plummet to the floor below.

They hit the floor at full speed as tables and chairs helplessly flee and china and crystal reigns down all around them.   Felicity tries to bite her sister’s exposed neck, but fails as her sister grabs her face and buries her talon-like thumbnail deep into Felicity’s left eye.  Black blood spews from the wound bathing Katalina in its sticky sheen.  Felicity screams in agony, as Katalina rakes her jagged nails across her cheek tearing skin free exposing muscle and bone.   Felicity picks her sister up and tosses her across the room, her power fueled by unimaginable pain.  Katalina slides across the floor slamming into the wall breaking past its structure and sinking deep within its construction.  “Kill her,” Felicity bellows to her minions, “tear her apart!”  

Her minions break the hypnotic spell they were under and hiss in delight.  They swarm towards Katalina, who has disappeared into the ruins of the wall.   The hole is instantaneously covered with a black shroud of bodies desperate to feast upon her flesh.    Their numbers are so great; they physically appear as one entity moving in perfect vicious unity.    “There will be nothing left,” Felicity cackles as she wipes the ever-flowing blood from the wounds on her face.  

Suddenly the room is filled with the shrill screams of Felicity’s horde as they scatter like roaches faced with a burst of light.   They spread to every corner of the room in a flash as Katalina emerges from the rubble with a makeshift cross created with remnants of wood in her hands.  It burns her flesh, searing her palms, smoke streaming between her fingers.   She sobs in agony as she boldly holds up the crucifix to successfully ward of her attackers. 

Felicity gasps as he watches the mob helplessly divide like frightened rats.  Katalina drops the cross and lurches forward soaring through the air and tackling Felicity to the ground.  This time her strike hits its mark as she sinks her sharp fangs into the flesh of her sister’s neck.  She bites down and then snaps forward ripping a bloodied, vile hunk of sinew and muscle from her nape.   Felicity tries to scream, but it is muffled by the flood of blood filling her throat.  Katalina strikes again and crushes her sister’s jugular, the crunching sound makes the minions cringe in terror.  She pulls forward again exposing the entirety of Felicity’s open throat.   Felicity gargles in her own blood, her ability to breathe utterly vanquished. 

Katalina thrusts her left hand into her sibling’s chest, shredding flesh and shattering bone until she holds her sister’s barely beating heart in her fist.  “I release you dear child,” Katalina whispers, as she mercilessly yanks the organ from Felicity’s body and casts it across the room.  It slams against the wall and splatters.   Felicity groans as life violently evacuates and her limp body begins to turn to ash.  Within an instant, Katalina is covered in the dust and debris that was once her enemy, her only sister.    The minions screech as they begin to violently dissolve, liquefying before her eyes into pools of vile, putrid red and black slime.

Within seconds, the hall falls silent with only the smell of death and decay loudly calling out to her.   “It’s over,” she sighs as she collapses onto the floor.   Her hands ache; she knows the burns will never heal.   She embraces the silence, rolls over and stares at the ceiling above.  The delicately crafted mural above her tells the biblical story of Cain and Abel in brilliant color and detail, unmolested by the careless hands of time.   It is as if it were painted just yesterday.   “How ironic,” she ponders.

There is no remorse, what was done, had to be done.  Her sister died long ago, whether it was from the first sip of her father’s blood or the rage that began to consume her from their first step in this nowhere town.   She had abandoned her just like everyone else.   Suddenly her quiet contemplation is rudely interrupted by a man’s voice, “is anyone here?” 

She recognizes it right away; it is the constable who arrested them so many months before.    The man who so easily and harshly bruised her cheek with his prejudice and animosity.  She slowly rises and sees him.  He spots her too, “Katalina are you okay, what happened here?”  She realizes he was the only one who had not attended the twisted gala, patrolling the empty streets with a bottle of bourbon and a flask filled with ignorance. 

“Nothing,” she smiles, “nothing at all.”  The confusion on his face is undeniable.   “Are you alright, this place is a horrific mess,” he continues, “The townsfolk say there was a monster here.”  He cautiously approaches her, “It is ridiculous, but now that I see all this.” 
Katalina glides over to him, “No, not a monster, “she purrs.  He stops in his tracks, memorized by her stare and gentle, angelic voice.    “Then what,” he puzzles as he becomes drowsy and light headed?  “Justice,” she whispers as she stands behind him running her nimble fingers through his hair, knocking off his hat.   

The constable is suddenly paralyzed where he stands, unable to understand why.   “But that doesn’t matter now,” she seductively continues, “You are just in time.”  He can barely muster the words, “for what?”  She stands before him, her soft subtle lips only inches from his face.  She peers deep into his eyes, beyond his very soul.  “Dinner,” she coos.  Fear fills the man’s heart, but he cannot react, frozen under her spell.  

His screams fill the hall, carried throughout the estate on the winds of the chilly night.  The sound of his bones cracking and the complete violation of his flesh the only underscore.   She delights in her feast, drenching herself in his succulent blood and terror.   

The night is young, the ball may be over, by her celebration has only just begun.